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How to clean junk from Mac hard drive?

Updated on December 22, 2014

Exploring Grey areas of hard drive

Do you really care about junk files on OS X Mac hard drive? Perhaps, you are unaware of those grey regions where Mac accumulates huge amount of junk files, duplicate files and unwanted apps. We know, for every crash report, a log file is created on the hard drive, similarly caches are created for every browsing activity. Not to forget that, ‘Trash’ is the place where all unwanted items are temporarily placed. And yeah, all downloads from the website goes into ‘Download’ folder on OS X startup drive.

Trash - Start with TRASH folder on the Dock. If you have neglected to ‘Empty the Trash’ and keep on sending files to it, then imagine the size of trash as of now. Don’t be surprised if the trash size has gone to few Gbs in size. Also, don’t forget that Trash is part of OS X. The larger its size, more drive spaces are gone accumulating files to it. To know the size of cluttered trash, simply launch the trash folder and click ‘Command + I’. This will let you know the amount of size of the trash in real-time. Also, to view size of each file on trash folder, click Command + Option + I to view of individual files. Do not forget to empty trash.

Download - OS X startup drive also incorporates ‘Download folder’ on its drive structure. Dozens of files are downloaded on daily basis, either from webmail or some websites. These files could be of different sizes and thus easily clutter the Download folder. In order to clean the clutter, first apply same key combination to know the size of the Download folder. If the files on the folder are unnecessary then don’t forget to trash them. Also, ensure, you empty the trash folder. Doing this couple of activity will release couple of GBs of spaces for the hard drive.

Caches – Data to be accessed by the OS X is stored in Caches. In Mac, cache folder is situated in Root Directory<<Library<<Caches. These caches hold vital information such as extensions, icons and metadata of other files. It helps OS X access information quickly. However, it is not rare when some of the cache files get corrupt. These corrupt cache information can create conflicts with other software, which can also result in abrupt shutdown of the software. To maintain & delete the caches, follow below helpful steps:

  • Launch Finder and click Macintosh HD.
  • Double-Click: Library folder<<Caches
  • From Edit menu, click ‘Select All
  • Drag all folders to trash. Alternatively, select folders manually and press ‘Command + Delete’ to send items to trash.
  • Empty the trash folder.
  • Restart Mac

Now, the question arises if cleaning caches can slow down the processes on Mac? Well, in the beginning, the application will surely look for its associated caches. Once the cache is not located, it will recreate it and will run smoother than before. Moreover, the hard drive spaces are also refreshed once huge amount of useless cache data is deleted.

Application folder – Launch Finder and go to ‘Application’ folder. DMGs can be installed on any locations, however .PKG files will automatically be installed in this folder. Now, there might be some completely unwanted apps, which you wouldn’t allow to occupy hard drive spaces. Drag these apps to Trash folder. Coming to the leftovers, most of the application folders will be removed through traditional ‘drag-n-drop’ method. However, some stubborn applications may leave behind their leftovers.

As all other junk files, duplicate files are created randomly on any location. Most of them will be created at the user’s end. iTunes, iPhoto duplicates are created on number of occasions. These replicated files are totally illegitimate and need not require staying on the startup drive. Best solution would be to run a duplicate file remover software.


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    • Viss profile image

      Vishal Chaudhary 2 years ago from New Delhi, India

      You should focus on gathering some quick tips which will help you adopt the OS X environment. Just like any other OS, Macs are friendly. You need to put little time to learn it. It's a whole new experience. I am happy I work on both Windows 8 laptop and my Mac Mini.

    • Peter Oscars profile image

      Peter Oscars 2 years ago

      Stellar Speedup Mac seems to be genuine app for removing junk files from Macintosh HD. I tried free version of speedup Mac software and removed almost 1.5 GB from the drive. Overall it showed me 6+ GB of junk files.

    • georgescifo profile image

      georgescifo 2 years ago from India

      We have a Mac system at our office and most of us are not comfortable working with that. We are all in the learning process and this hub will prove beneficial for us in the long run.